Pixel Scroll 9/9/17 The Map Is Not The Epic Fantasy Just As The Pixel Is Not The Scroll

(1) FURRY COUNCILMAN OUSTED. A city councilman in the eastern U.S. was pressured into quitting after his activities as a furry fan became a source of public controversy. The Danbury, Connecticut News Times has the story: “New Milford councilman resigns after furor over ‘furry’ activities”.

Town Council member Scott Chamberlain had never made a secret of his deep involvement in Furry Fandom, a subculture of adults who dress in mascot-like animal costumes, attend role-playing conventions and interact regularly online.

But an uproar ensued when a town resident posted on a community Facebook page several screenshots of Chamberlain’s profile from a private website catering to “furries,” many of whom participate in or write about unusual sexual practices. The profile includes a list of Chamberlain’s “loves,” “likes” and “hates,” some sexual in nature, but also said that he “tolerates” rape.

In an interview at midday Thursday, Chamberlain explained his involvement in the “furry” community as a harmless hobby.

“It’s nothing to do with sex; it’s an interest in cartoon animals,” said the first-term Democrat, who was up for re-election.

But Mayor David Gronbach, saying elected officials should be held to a “higher standard,” called for Chamberlain’s immediate resignation, and within two hours party officials said he would resign all his town and party positions by Monday morning.

(2) PROGRESS. The “Help Lezli See (Eye Surgery)” campaign has now raised $6,525 of its $8,000 goal. The contributions have come from 130 donors, including Game of Thrones producer David Benioff.

(3) GENRE GROWTH. At Amazing Stories David Gerrold has a guest editorial, “Humanity’s’ R&D Department – Science Fiction”.

The evolution of science fiction is a reflection of our changing culture. Attitudes that were commonplace in the past have been recognized as antiquated, quaint, and obsolete.

Our national conversation is the result of our diverse history. We’re not the proverbial melting pot — no, we’re a tossed salad. Every new wave of immigrants adds new ingredients to the mix, new flavors to discover; but all arrive with the same dream, a place to build a better life. We are immigrants, or we are the descendants of immigrants, and as a people we are learning to recognize the strength and value of our national diversity — it gives us a greater sense of the global village.

So, yes, it is inevitable that science fiction authors will explore that diversity — expanded roles for women, new definitions of gender and sexuality, the contributions of People of Color and other non-white ethnicities. We’ve discovered the overlooked skills of the aged and the disabled, the unusual and extraordinary ratiocinations of people who are neuro-atypical. The next generation of authors are exploriong vast new landscapes of possibility — places to explore and discover ways of being human previously unconsidered.

Even as science extends its reach outward, probes journeying as far as Pluto, telescopes peering to the farthest edges of the universe, as we expand our knowledge of what’s out there, some of our most ambitious authors are turning their attention to a different frontier —exploring the workings of the human soul.

We’ve seen some remarkable work, truly transformative — mind bending. Yes, it’s non-traditional — so what? Science fiction has always been non-traditional. It has always been “that weird stuff.” It has always been subtly subversive — and sometimes even openly dangerous.

(4) SPACE FOR YOU. Brandon O’Brien muses about the genre:

Further down he says:

(5) STRANGE HORIZONS. Elsewhere, O’Brien encourages people to participate in the “Strange Horizons Fund Drive 2017”. $4,726 out of $16,000.

(6) AWARD WORTHY. The Hugo Award Book Club waxes nostalgic about “The science fiction art of Erik Nitsche”.

There was no Hugo Award given for Best Artist in 1957 at the 15th Worldcon in London. But since awards were given in other categories, there is no provision in the current rules of the WSFS constitution to award any Retro Hugos for that year. Which is a shame, because some of the finest work from one of the most innovative graphic designers of the era had started verging into the realm of science fiction in 1955 and 1956. The name Erik Nitsche is rarely brought up in conversations of science fiction, but is well-known to historians of graphic design. In 1955, the Swiss-born designer had been hired by General Dynamics to create promotional imagery for the organization’s annual International Conferences on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (ICPUAE).

(7) WASTED ON THE YOUNG? In The Guardian, Joanna Walsh asserts “All the awards for young writers amount to discrimination”.

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Guardian on ageism in the literary world, about the predilection of publications like Granta, the New Yorker and Buzzfeed for authors under the age of 40. The problem hasn’t gone away and on Tuesday I wrote an open letter to the Royal Society of Literature, after it called for nominations for 40 new fellows under 40.

Encouraging young writers is laudable. After all, it’s increasingly difficult to get started. Publishers’ advances are low and getting lower; arts degrees are more expensive than Stem subjects; social security is fiercely tested. Which must mean that those most able to pay for a writing course, or those most able to take time off work to write while still young, are those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence. There’s a correlation between setting an age bar and encouraging the already privileged.

All writers were young once, and many start writing young, but not all begin their careers as published authors at that point. Leaving aside the fact that some only decide to start writing later in life, many factors affect one’s ability to commit to writing seriously. Besides income issues, age bars can lead an organisation into worrying territory. Authors from outside the perceived cultural mainstream who do not already see their voices represented – LGBTQ writers, writers of colour – are sometimes slow to recognise the contribution they can make, or to feel like their voices will be valued.

Age is a feminist issue. Careers, delayed by years looking after children or other dependents, are mostly women; residencies that offer no childcare or require long stays are an easy way to sift female candidates out of contention. Older women are already told every day, in ways ranging from the subtle to the blatant, that they are irrelevant and should shut up. Multiply this by, say, race or gender, and the courage required to put work out is even greater. Or the potential writer might not be the carer, but the cared-for. Writers who live with a disability or ill-health may not start out until they have found a way to write with their condition – which may take longer than this 40-years-old rule allows for.


  • September 9, 1927 — Silent horror-comedy The Cat and the Canary turns 90 today.


  • John King Tarpinian found one it takes a moment to figure out: The Argyle Sweater.
  • It’s Daredevil vs. Spider-man at Bliss.

(10) JUST PLAIN FOWL. The Guardian profiles actor Michael Keaton: “Michael Keaton: ‘There was a lot of bad taste in the 90s and I contributed to that’”.

He has made a career out of taking the unpredictable route: you can never guess his next role, and then he never plays it the way you’d expect. In his breakthrough movie, 1983’s Mr Mom, Keaton played a stay-at-home father at a time when such a concept was almost unheard of, and he played him as a man who has no idea how to do any of the stereotypically masculine jobs around the house; when asked if he’s rewiring the house with 220 volts, Keaton adlibbed, “220, 221, whatever it takes”. He was the dazzlingly frenetic lead in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, a largely improvised performance opposite fellow ghosts Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. With Burton again, he played Batman as a conflicted nerd, rather than a grinning muscle man. In Birdman, he plays an actor so neurotic, he ends up running through Manhattan in his underwear.

(11) PRATCHETT INSPIRES FAST FOOD AD. Arby’s is known for its roast beef, not its Morpork….

(12) HISTORY CORRECTED. Have researchers finally discovered Sweden’s real-life version of Lady Brienne of Tarth or Xena the Warrior Princess? “Viking warrior found in Sweden was a woman, researchers confirm”.

The grave, which Hedenstierna-Jonson describes as the world’s “ultimate warrior Viking grave”, was discovered and excavated by Swedish archeologist Hjalmar Stolpe at the end of the 19th century. Because of the “manly” warrior equipment found in the grave, it was just assumed – rather than proven – that the remains were that of a man.

But a few years ago, Anna Kjellström, an osteologist at the Stockholm University, brought out the remains to study them for another research project and noticed that something was amiss. The cheekbones were finer and thinner than that of a man, and the hip bones were typically feminine. An osteological analysis was carried out, lending even more support to her suspicion.

Now, however, a DNA-analysis has been carried out, clearly confirming that the Viking warrior was indeed a woman.

(13) WEEDING THE PLOT. Your cabal curator, Shaun Duke:

(14) PLUNGE RIGHT IN. Beware: John Scalzi is a language prescriptivist and a plumber.

(15) GRITE LITERATURE. Camestros Felapton has had a busy day, posting chapters from Timothy the Talking Cat’s work in progress, Chiseled McEdifice: Returns.

Just then a gunshot rang out and a bullet ricocheted off his space marine helmet (he was wearing his space marine helmet obviously – look at the cover image). The HUD display flickered on in his helmet (no that isn’t ‘redundant’ I can’t just say ‘his HUD flickered on’ as that sounds perverted to me). Targeting identified a heat source 501.67 metres away to the north east.

“Enhance,” McEdifice vocalised and in some sort of cool special effect way the helmet magnified that area of his vision (with maybe a hi-tech noise like boop-ooohwushboop). It was one of the Treerat gang!

The Treerat Gang: a bunch of outlaws and pagan worshippers of the ancient demonic squirrel god. They had a lasting hate for McEdifice ever since he drove them and their filthy ways out of town and killed their leader in a shoot-out.

“Oh dear!” said McEdifice as he once again made a futile attempt to apply the brakes! Just then the front wheel hit a particularly large pebble! The bike crashed and McEdifice was thrown clear!

KABOOM! The bicycle exploded in a fiery explosion as a consequence of it hitting a rock. McEdifice rushed over and beat back the flames and then with one mighty flick of his shoulders he hoisted up the flaming bike and threw it into a near by pond which I should have probably mentioned earlier.

(16) NO TRUCE IN THE CULTURE WARS. Sadly, Lawrence Person ended his Jerry Pournelle obituary with an irrelevant shot at “SJWs”.

He edited a number of anthologies over the years; when he finally received a Hugo nomination for that, Social Justice Warrior bloc voting made sure he finished below No Award.

Person didn’t think it was important to mention that Pournelle was slated onto the 2016 ballot by the Rabid Puppies, which was the direct cause of that outcome. Or that Pournelle was nominated for eight other Hugos and finished above No Award every time.

(17) MEAT. What are they selling in this video? It’ll come to you eventually. Includes L. Ron and an alien.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Darren Garrison, and David Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

95 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/9/17 The Map Is Not The Epic Fantasy Just As The Pixel Is Not The Scroll

  1. “I too find the whitewashing of Pournelle’a political activities a little much. It’s gone beyond being nice and into being a weird kind of cover up.”

    We are all part of the Pournelle Illuminati Cult. We are so hateful that we will prefer to discuss the works of an author than whatever his opinions have been about other things when surrounded by grieving friends. We call that cover up “being decent human beings”.

  2. +1 to what Hampus said. At this time & place (paraphrasing Matthew Prior):

    Be to his virtues very kind;
    Be to his faults a little blind;

    (I don’t think any of us are unaware of Pournelle’s flaws. But most of us have a better sense of compassion for those grieving his loss. We choose to leave that conversation for a more appropriate time & place.)

  3. Which sounds fine and reasonable but then you get the likes of Lawrence Person using that “decency” as a shield for fascism. Introducing a little reality into the conversation at the cost of politeness is no bad thing – especially as trying to be polite to those who would harm us got us into a lot of the messes we are in today.

  4. @xtifr:

    I used it when discussing the Lottery of Huruslahti, where the order was given to kill one out of every ten (it wasn’t strictly a lottery, as specific prisoners were selected first and then others were chosen to fill out the ranks of those to be shot). I confused no one, because my readers could all read and understand basic English and reasonably well-written sentences. 🙂

    Be that as it may, the definition you deride as “obsolete” is still in use, even if rarely, the action it describes (killing one in ten) has been ordered on more than one occasion since WWI and I don’t think that scholar to whom you referred looked terribly hard for uses if they couldn’t find any “for centuries”, given that the first known modern usage was in the 1660s (a little over 350 years ago) and the French used it as a punishment as recently as WWI, just over 100 years ago.

    But you can, of course, continue to hold to your view and also to consider M-W as not “up-to-date” on the matter. It’s a free internet (at least for the moment it is). For myself, M-W is a bit more credible than a nameless scholar.

  5. @14 (reminded by @Lisa Goldstein): I know there’s a Poul Anderson story making use of the changes in meaning of words such as “pompous” and “awful”. Anyone else remember this? the title?

    @Karl-Johan: my biochemistry work is far enough behind that I bogged down partway through the paper you linked to — but I was fascinated to read that the burial site was at Birka, which is remembered as a trading place in one of the largest SCA events in New England. I wonder whether she was more like a trader who could defend herself (which IIRC would not be unique among Vikings), or a marshal/peacekeeper, or a ruler who fought when necessary, rather than a plain reaver (as Vikings are still too commonly spoken of).

    @Art: Pournelle’s political activities? I’ve never had any patience with Pournelle’s attitudes, but AFAIK his involvement with government was limited to advising more interest in space and suggesting what this could lead to — and that was a while ago.

    @Hampus: discussing Pournelle’s works is no favor to his mourners; I suspect the median reaction to them by today’s readers would lean towards “Ick!”. Best perhaps to let him depart without comment.

  6. Of interest: James Berardinelli reviews “Anti Matter”, a film currently available through on-demand in the US:

    In that vein, along comes Anti Matter, the existential successor to 2015’s Ex Machina. Narratively, the films don’t have a lot in common but they are soul-mates when it comes their underlying production philosophies and thematic material. … Anti Matter’s protagonist is Ana (Yaiza Figueroa), an Oxford-based PhD student who, during the course of routine experiments, accidentally discovers the building blocks of teleportation.

  7. @Hampus Eckerman

    we will prefer to discuss the works of an author than whatever his opinions have been about other things

    Except that when somebody does discuss his work in a less than flattering light, they’re liable to get shouted down as well. So it appears that his friends prefer to celebrate his life by studiously avoiding discussion of everything he’s ever written—which strikes me as a curious way to celebrate a famously opinionated writer.

    But to redirect this into a more constructive vein: I have to admit that I’ve never read any of Pournelle’s fiction (Reading his BYTE columns, I got the impression that I would not enjoy it). What are some good starter works to sell me on his merits as a writer (shorter fiction preferred, but I’ll read a novel if that’s the consensus)?

  8. @Chip Hitchcock

    I know there’s a Poul Anderson story making use of the changes in meaning of words such as “pompous” and “awful”. Anyone else remember this? the title?

    Do you mean “Time of Burning” (aka Supernova) in which travelers prepare for one language but arrive centuries late – and so Anderson has the space travelers speaking Elizabethan English to natives who sound like they’re from the 20th century?

    Speaking of decimate, “quarantine” hardly ever gets used to refer to periods of forty days, and “dilapidated” is often (usually?) used in reference to buildings that are not made of stones despite the root word apparent in the middle of “dilapidated.”

    P.S. Folks who knew Frank Gasperik (who was Tuckerized by Pournelle and Niven several times) will remember that he took a hard line about “decimate.”

  9. Art — Introducing a little reality into the conversation at the cost of politeness is no bad thing

    And yet you expect a courteous reception for your namecalling. Hypocrisy?

  10. Wasn’t it Pournelle who wrote the story about the two kids who never met but whose lives intersected during an artillery bombardment in Vietnam? I’m not a fan of Pournelle’s, but that story has haunted me since I was a kid. If he did indeed write that one, I recommend it. And I hope someone can turn up the name! I’d like to re-read it.

    As to how to remember people, there are people who deserve disdain from the get-go after their deaths. I wasn’t silent about my pleasure at Nixon’s death. I believe the first words out of my mouth on hearing the news was that it was appropriate to get rid of garbage on Earth Day. I stand by that remark. He was a deeply evil man.

    He was also a man whose evil had direct causal consequences. Those guys you never let up on, ever, not for a moment, not until and unless they’re forgotten to history:

    And I hope that you die
    And your death’ll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand o’er your grave
    ’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

    Jerry Pournelle was not one of those guys, so let him be, for the moment.

  11. @microtherion:

    Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of Pournelle’s. For the most part, milsf isn’t something I enjoy, so most of his novels I haven’t read.

    That said, I’ve read a fair amount of his short fiction. The collection High Justice is probably representative of his work. It’s uneven, but a fair proportion is good. I would recommend also “He Fell Into a Dark Hole” and “Extreme Prejudice”. “Mercenary” is good.

    Some of his work is available to read online:


  12. Art:

    “Which sounds fine and reasonable but then you get the likes of Lawrence Person using that “decency” as a shield for fascism.”

    Yes, yes, we are all shielding fascism here. That is what we do when not stomping on kittens and eating small children.


    I saw no shouting whatsoever. Only a gentle post reminding that he had friends in grieving in exactly that post and that there is a time and place for everything.

  13. Wasn’t it Pournelle who wrote the story about the two kids who never met but whose lives intersected during an artillery bombardment in Vietnam?

    No, that’s a Joe Haldeman. “A Time to Live”, maybe?

  14. @Robert Reynolds: Thanks for the recommendations! I just read “Extreme Prejudice”, and did indeed enjoy it.

  15. Looking at the Best Series longlist for last year, the following series also have an eligible work this year:
    The Laundry Files by Charles Stross
    Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
    World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold

    This one doesn’t have an eligible work this year, but the main Cosmere series does:
    Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

    These don’t have an eligible work this year (as far as I’m aware):
    Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Cixin Liu
    Thessaly by Jo Walton
    Newsflesh by Mira Grant
    Young Wizards by Diane Duane
    Fairyland by Catherynne Valente

  16. @James David Nicoll: Thanks! Now I’ll know where to look it up.

    @microtherion: I ducked to that site to see if I could recognize the story I was looking for and read “A Matter of Sovereignty”, which was very good.

  17. @Art–

    Which sounds fine and reasonable but then you get the likes of Lawrence Person using that “decency” as a shield for fascism. Introducing a little reality into the conversation at the cost of politeness is no bad thing – especially as trying to be polite to those who would harm us got us into a lot of the messes we are in today.

    Is this the standard of behavior you apply when attending a wake? Is it behavior you welcome from others at the deaths of friends and loved ones of yours?

  18. @Pournelle: The day of the man’s death is not the time to debate his political leanings. His family is in mourning. Save the political debate for another time.

  19. I don’t believe I’ve ever read any of Mr. Pournelle’s stand-alone fiction as his type of MilSF isn’t usually my thing, but I’ve read some of his short and his collaborations with Larry Niven. “The Mote in God’s Eye” alone is enough.
    But apparently I’ve been unaware of his crimes against humanity. Thank god there’s some SJWs and Puppy-adjacents around to poke sticks and keep things pure.
    So what Hampus said; and what Lis Carey said.

  20. @Lis Carey:

    Is this the standard of behavior you apply when attending a wake? Is it behavior you welcome from others at the deaths of friends and loved ones of yours?

    I had to learn that lesson under fire, and I didn’t do the ideal job of it.

    Our local alternative weekly (bi-weekly at that point) shut down unexpectedly. I’d worked for them for some time, and fell out with* the last owners. The editor and her brother were the owners of the paper, and the publisher was her fiancée. I’d sued the publisher over kicking me during an argument I had with the editor (a stupid argument on my part). He was wrong, but I can’t say I was right. On the other hand, they weren’t right in singling out me and a few other people involved in local politics they didn’t get along with in their last issue, in an editorial explaining they were shutting down in large part because we were such jerks to them. They didn’t name us, but it was pretty clear who was meant.

    Anyway, there was a need, and so I got an issue of a new paper on the streets ten days later. I was totally unprepared and uncapitalized, so of course it folded later that year, but the owners of the old paper sending letters out to potential advertisers and other folks trashing me didn’t help. It was a bitter scene.

    They shut down their paper in late July. My first issue was dated August first. It folded in November. So it goes.

    While all that was going on, the two of them set a date and started traveling to meet each others’ families. Then they got back to town and the publisher wiped out on his bicycle and got a knee injury, which got badly infected, then treated ineffectually with some bullshit natural medicine long enough that by the time they got around to antibiotics, his leg had gone septic. They tried the hyperbaric oxygen treatment, but he had claustrophobia and couldn’t handle it. I believe they were taking his leg off just above the knee when he died on the table. Some of these details may not be right, because it’s not like I was buddies with them any more, but it’s all pretty close.

    Now, despite everything, that struck me as a really sad thing. We were all in our early thirties and that is not an appropriate time for anyone to die. Put that together with the impending marriage and all, and, well, while I wasn’t exactly over my mad, I thought this was a very sad result. But I didn’t plan to go to the memorial.

    Three different people I knew–and I should have thought harder when I realized two of them were also named in that final editorial–contacted me to urge that I go to the service. We had to support the editor, they said. And the whole thing did make me sad. And so I went…

    …only to find that their idea of “support the editor” meant “trash the editor’s dead fiancée at his memorial service”. And by trash, I mean trash him like “I’m glad he’s dead.” (That is an accurate quote, modulo removing the name.) I never heard one of them say it within obvious earshot of her, but still.

    So I’m sorry to report that when I was pressed to join in the fun, rather than simply saying, “I don’t think his memorial service, with his fiancée right here, is the right time for this,” I came up with some weasel words like, “I think he was a bad influence on local politics and I’d’ve been glad for him to move away, but I’m sorry he’s dead.”

    Since then, I’ve been trying to be a little better about not trashing the dead. I do hope to live long enough to piss on two particular graves, but I also hope not to make it three.

    *fell out with or fell out from? I know it’s fall in with so fall out from seems right, but I don’t have an example in mind.

  21. @James Davis Nicoll:

    Not 100% sure that’s the right title but I know the Haldeman in question is in the collection Infinite Dreams.

    I’ve got that book on the shelf I face at breakfast, so I knew right where it was: a quick skim of the book suggests that the story in question is “Counterpoint” (it opens with the birth of two characters, one the son of a millionaire, the other the son of a prostitute – they both end up in Vietnam).

  22. @Andrew: I’m sure that’s right! That’s the title I had in mind. Gosh, that’s an excellent story! And now that I think about it, I know I read it in or before tenth grade, as when our English teacher assigned us our own obituaries, mine included a lot of mathematics degrees and awards, and death at an early age. I was clearly influenced by that story.

  23. Apologies. Obviously I would not attend a wake for this person, knowing what I do about them an disapproving of it. Possibly including item 16 in the first place was a mistake if maintaining the wake-like atmosphere hinged on not commenting upon it?

  24. @John A Arkansawyer: I’m glad I had the book handy. Looks like it was Haldeman’s 4th sale.

    “Therefore, YASID not to know. For whom the Pixel Scrolls, It Scrolls for thee”


    Eh, what someone enjoys (or tolerates) as a fantasy or in their fiction shouldn’t be taken as endorsement of a real life act. (There’s a lot of discussion about this in transformative works fandom, naturally.)

    Otherwise everyone who enjoys grimdark or the horror genre would be permanently banned from office. That would be a bit silly.


    I’m not sure this is terribly meaningful as a response to an attempt to get the average age of a group below 70. Quite clearly, people under forty are underrepresented in that particular group.

    I like the Campbell Award approach – new writers rather than young writers – but I don’t think it would be appropriate for the problem the Royal Society of Literature is trying to solve.


    I always enjoy these stories. 🙂


    I’m not sure using an obituary to take potshots at a perceived enemy is particularly respectful to the individual it is supposedly honouring.

    Re: Pournelle

    I have no personal attachment to Pournelle as an individual or to his work (I think there might be one on a TBR pile somewhere, but so far my main exposure is TWBW X – not exactly a shining example). I don’t particularly object to people discussing his politics or the shortcomings of his fiction in this thread (although I’d prefer it if it stayed relatively respectful as a courtesy to those reading who mourn – it hasn’t been very long, after all). I very much object to people doing so in the memorial thread. Internet funerals are not the time or the place. Would anyone here consider it acceptable if right-wingers turned up on the memorial for a left-winger and had a go at them for their politics, in front of their grieving friends? I hope not.

    I don’t have much time for “don’t speak ill of the dead” as a general rule but “don’t speak ill of the dead in front of many of their grieving friends, while in a space dedicated to their memorial” is in my opinion a reasonable and considerate thing to abide by. No-one is required to speak well of them, but choosing where and when to criticise is hardly an intolerable burden.

  26. Is it behavior you welcome from others at the deaths of friends and loved ones of yours?

    I would expect my friends and loved ones to behave better than Person has.

  27. @7: I find the awards thing sort of fascinating to look at in the abstract. I mean, I’ve had a lifelong ambition to write, worked on my craft as best I was able, and so on, and just got my first pro short story publication, and all that.

    And I’m complicatedly not-abled, and I’m primary caregiver to the kids, and–

    And I’m 39. I think I’m glad I’m not aware of any particular “young writer” things that I might care about that I’m missing out on, as I don’t really know I want to worry about that rather than get this story unstuck.

    Also, ticky.

  28. @Chip Hitchcock and (12) I skipped the methods chapter, and concentrated on the discussion, which discussed the context of the other graves and how they have been interpreted by past historians and archeologists.

    The really ironic thing about the Bj 581 grave from a historiographic standpoint is that it has been the go-to grave for showing the grave of a high-status Viking warrior since it was first excavated a hundred years ago.

  29. Pournelle did indeed describe himself as “to the right of Genghis Khan” (not even sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it gets the idea across), and he was good friends with Newt Gingrich (the two even contemplated writing a book together). As far as politics goes, I think few in SF are farther from me. But from everything I’ve heard, he was more than willing to put aside politics when it came to the SF community, and I’ve been hearing his praises sung by some pretty extreme lefties, like David Gerrold and Norman Spinrad.

    So I’m not going to dance on his grave. I wish more people could transcend their politics and win the respect of those who disagree with them as well as those who agree. From everything I can gather, Dr. Pournelle was a good man, even if he subscribed to ideas I find extremely distasteful. I can and do respect that.

  30. Re: decimate and obSF:

    The kill one in ten meaning showed up in Doctor Who a few years ago. In The Sound of the Drums, The Master uses it when he orders the Toclafane to kill a tenth of that population of Earth

  31. @Soon Lee: that’s it! The last comment on the first link has several details which square up exactly with recollections of >30 years ago, including the abuse of “friend”.

    @Andrew: I don’t remember the plot you describe (although I can imagine Anderson having fun with it); “Tragedy of Errors” is defintely the one I was thinking of.

    @microtherion: I have distantly ~pleasant memories of A Spaceship for the King (extended as King David’s Spaceship, which IMO was far too … predictable); ISTM that the politics were not as obtrusive as in his later work.

    @Karl-Johan: that will learn me to quit skimming before I reach the end. The Discussion seemed to be stretching in places, but it makes clear how past readings tended to make too many assumptions.

    Some of us older fans remember a Pournelle who could not tolerate having even his strangest propositions being questioned; I hear he mellowed later.

  32. 3) Being “subvervise” is indeed an important aspect of SF, but Gerrold’s examples don’t support subverversion as being a literary value in and of itself.

    He champions stories that oppose values that he himself doesn’t share. That’s easy. How does he react when encountering a story that questions all that he holds dear?

    Can there be “good subversion” ( opposes what I oppose) and “bad subversion” ( questions what I don’t want questioned)?

    Would he, for example, welcome a story that subverts the values of “cultural diversity”? How would he feel about an SF novel, say, that posited that liberal multi-cultures like those of the West were doomed to collapse, and that only relatively mono-cultural, conservative societies like China will thrive in the future?

    This was Starship Troopers for me. I vehemently disagree with the politics of the book, but they were very well argued and I had to think very hard about why I disagreed with those politics, and really clarify my own position. It was actually quite invigorating. When the positions aren’t well argued, however (the Heinlein example that comes to mind is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which struck me as being basically Atlas Shrugged but narrated by Yakov Smirnoff) then I have no problem being dismissive and not seeing its “subversiveness” as any kind of virtue.

    There are definitely some things I disagree with in that piece (even “SF as inherently subversive” is a point that has been ably argued against by David Forbes), and this paragraph comes to mind as being either absurd hyperbole or stemming from a grievously unsophisticated reading of other literatures (most likely the former):

    No other genre is as ambitious, no other genre considers as many powerful and disturbing questions. All the other branches of literature are about the past, they’re about how we got here, as if here is a static place. Only science fiction is about the future. Only science fiction is about change.

    …but I feel like the value of subversion is well-stated, and I don’t see any reason to “yes, but…” that aspect of it, and indeed I see no reason to “yes, but…” the essay’s wider point, either.

  33. Jerry Pournelle has been part of my SFWA existence for the last half decade or so, ever since I got brought on as head moderator of the SFWA boards due to a controversy that centered on him. We corresponded on what seems like at least a weekly basis, but my mind may be playing tricks on me.

    At any rate, this is what I said on Facebook in reply to Norman:

    Jerry was indeed an uncommonly kind man at times; I saw that demonstrated time and time again during my tenure with SFWA administration. He was one of the people overseeing the administration of the SFWA Emergency Medial Fund, and he always pushed for more money than the applicant had requested (when he felt they qualified), usually pointing out that medical costs inevitably grew.

    And he was one of the people that started that fund. He told me he and Robert Silverberg each kicked in $5,000. Nowadays it’s over a hundred times that amount, and has helped a multitude of people, the majority of whom have turned around and fed more into it in turn, such as David Gerrold, who has been very generous in helping fund drive, as have countless cons, fan organizations, individuals, and other people that I’m not going to list.

    Jerry understood what a pain in the ass being SFWA President is, particularly when you’re not a Big Name Author (I believe I’m the umpteenth one nobody ever heard of) and in our private interactions he treated me with the same respect I treated him. And I did treat him with respect, because he represented so much history, so much experience, so much volunteer work, and so many moments of kindness, including a private letter to me when I was deeply grieving that helped soothe that sorrow.

    We didn’t always agree. Holy cats, no. I can remember the Spokane Worldcon SFWA business meeting with Jerry demanding to know why we didn’t just throw the reincorporation effort out the window and go back to the way we’d always done things in a way that had me wanting to tear my hair out. But I held a certain amount of love for Jerry, much the way one does a problematic uncle, a wary affection that knew at any moment he might say something facepalm-y.

    I hope that the Universe treats you well in your journey, Jerry, and that you and I collide in some fashion again. Godspeed. *salutes*

  34. Lorcan Nagle on September 11, 2017 at 1:06 am said:

    The kill one in ten meaning showed up in Doctor Who a few years ago. In The Sound of the Drums, The Master uses it when he orders the Toclafane to kill a tenth of that population of Earth

    And they made a point of saying that they were killing one in ten, right? Because otherwise, everyone would assume they meant the standard definition. When one meaning of a word is so obscure that you have to explain it whenever you use it in that sense, you cannot call that the “real” meaning. In fact, it’s a little tricky to even say it is a meaning if it cannot convey that meaning without explanation.

    Note that nobody has to explain themselves when using the older meaning of, for example, terrific. You can say “we had a terrific row”, and nobody will be confused.

    I’ll bet good money that the kill-one-in-ten meaning is more rare than misuse for “completely destroy”, which is itself so rare that even the most ardent descriptivists (i.e. the lexicographers at Oxford) dismiss it as an error. If it weren’t for the historicity, I suspect the one-in-ten meaning would be considered a simple error.

    In fact, now that I stop to check the OED, it has the kill-one-in-ten sense marked as “historical”, and a usage note says “[t]his sense has been more or less totally superseded […]”.

    @August: No arguments about Troopers, but I suspect you may be falling into the trap of analyzing The Moon is a Harsh Mistress the way the Libertarians want you to. And I think their analysis is crap. I think its failure to make the case for ultra-Libertarianism was deliberate. The Libs claim that Prof. Paz was the author avatar. I don’t believe it. I think the Prof. represented a set of ideas he wanted to examine, and whozname, the ally from Earth (Stuart?), represented his doubts and cynicism about those ideals. And Manny, caught between the two, and uncertain, was the real author avatar, insofar as there really was one.

  35. microtherion on September 10, 2017 at 2:15 pm said:

    But to redirect this into a more constructive vein: I have to admit that I’ve never read any of Pournelle’s fiction (Reading his BYTE columns, I got the impression that I would not enjoy it). What are some good starter works to sell me on his merits as a writer (shorter fiction preferred, but I’ll read a novel if that’s the consensus)?

    I really liked “King David’s Spaceship” set in his post-Codominium Empire of Man universe. Set on a planet that is at 19th century technology level, they are found by the Empire, and are horrified to find out they will become a serfdom planet due to lack of space technology. They decide to do something about that.

  36. @techgrrl1972 and the protagonists wind up trading on an even more backward-slid planet than theirs as a cover for learning more to bootstrap a space program to avoid their fate. Yeah, that’s a good one

  37. @Chip Hitchcock: I’ll have to find ““Tragedy of Errors” – that’s one I haven’t read.

    @Xtifr: Agree regarding MiaHM: the story shows a libertarianesque society existing only in a sandbox enforced by a prison warden (!). As soon as the people of Luna have a choice, they create for themselves a government very similar to a modern liberal democracy, in spite of brilliant speeches by a highly regarded Lunie, who is also a high-ranking member of the Revolution.

  38. (7) There’s a typo in the quote as reprinted here — Joanna Walsh had the correct spelling in her original article. She wrote that “carers” (not “careers”) are mostly female.

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